Mike Singletary wants another chance as head coach
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org January 26, 2013 12:36AM
Former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary compiled an 18-22 record during his tenure as the 49ers’ coach. He interviewed for the Bears’ vacancy that went to Marc Trestman. | Jim Prisching~AP
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:59AM
Mike Singletary already has been an NFL head coach, but he struggled to articulate what ran through his mind before his interview for the Bears’ coaching vacancy this month.
‘‘It’s hard to put into words,’’ Singletary told the Sun-Times. ‘‘You play at a place, and you remember what it was like and what it took to get to where you needed to go. To sit up there and talk about that job was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.’’
Singletary was one of 14 candidates to interview for the job, but there was some skepticism about how legitimate his prospects were. Some pointed to his 18-22 record as the coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Others suggested he only was fulfilling the Rooney Rule, even though special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong was one of the first to interview. Still others intimated that ownership instructed general manager Phil Emery, who led the search to replace Lovie Smith, to interview Singletary.
So instead of speculation, let’s hear from Singletary, Emery and chairman George McCaskey.
Asked if he was hopeful of becoming the Bears’ coach, Singletary said, ‘‘Absolutely.’’
As for ownership asking Emery to interview Singletary, McCaskey said that would have been ‘‘improper.’’
‘‘You have to rely on him to conduct the process,’’ McCaskey said of Emery. ‘‘I couldn’t put restrictions or conditions on his process. That’s why we hired him — to do that job.’’
Emery said Singletary, the Minnesota Vikings’ linebackers coach and special assistant to the head coach, was immediately on his list, pointing to his Hall of Fame career with the Bears.
‘‘Any man that’s accomplished what he’s accomplished as a player [and] has a passion for this team is going to be talked to,’’ Emery said. ‘‘He deserved it.
‘‘If I’m going to talk to somebody about Chicago Bear football, I’m going to talk to Mike Singletary.’’
Emery said that Singletary was ‘‘enormously prepared’’ for the interview and that he was moved by his passion and personal story.
‘‘It was a great time in terms of talking to him about where he’s come from in life and where he’s at now,’’ Emery said.
But Emery pointed to his emphasis of replacing Smith with someone with an offensive background.
‘‘Because of that relationship with a quarterback being so important from a head-coach perspective,’’ Emery said. ‘‘That’s what made Marc [Trestman] the best candidate.’’
Even after Trestman was hired, McCaskey said he spoke with Singletary on the telephone.
‘‘We have the utmost respect for him, as he’s been the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about,’’ McCaskey said. ‘‘So I was pleased to see he was in the process.’’
Singletary knows African-American coaches historically don’t get second chances as often as their white peers. He isn’t making excuses and, as always, tries to maintain an optimistic perspective about his future.
There were 15 head-coaching and GM vacancies this offseason, and all of them were filled by white men. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which works with the NFL to measure and promote minority hiring, sent a letter to the league that suggested the Rooney Rule be expanded to cover offensive- and defensive-coordinator openings, as well as assistant head coaches. Right now, the rule requires teams to interview minorities only for head-coaching and GM vacancies.
‘‘We believe pipeline issues are a part of the reason we’ve seen a reduction in head coaches of color over the past few years, and this expansion will diversify the head-coaching pipeline,’’ the Fritz Pollard Alliance said in its letter, according to NFL.com.
Singletary, though, wasn’t alarmed or disappointed.
‘‘I just believe there are a lot of guys out there that are worthy,’’ Singletary said, referring to minority candidates. ‘‘But there are also some white coaches out there who are worthy who don’t get interviews. So it goes both ways.’’
Singletary was blasted for his tenure with the 49ers, including for his infamous run-in with tight end Vernon Davis. In October 2008, Davis was flagged for taunting and Singletary banished him from the field. Afterward, Singletary passionately said he wanted winners, not selfish players.
Last week, Davis told radio station KNBR-AM in San Francisco that he credited Singletary for helping him become the player he is today.
‘‘I’m glad he was aboard from the start because I learned so much from him,’’ Davis said. ‘‘And not just about football, but about life, about team, about being a part of a team, and I take my hat off to him.’’
Singletary said he isn’t bitter the 49ers have reached the Super Bowl. In fact, he’s still thankful to many in the organization for giving him a chance to be a head coach.
But he wants another shot.
‘‘It was great to be interviewed,’’ Singletary said. ‘‘But hopefully, in the near future, it’ll happen again.’’